Tavolara: the most beautiful pocket kingdom on earth

Speaking of the smallest country on the planet, many people immediately think of the Vatican, Tonga, San Marino or Swaziland. In fact, Tavolara is the most compact “mini kingdom.” This island is the smallest kingdom inhabited in the world, plus the old king, only 11 people in the country!

The island of Tavolara, with an area of ​​only 5 square kilometers, is located not far from the world-famous Emerald Coast of Sardinia, Italy. The island stands in the blue sea and looks like a bumpy mountain. The current King Antonio Beatorio is an 83-year-old fisherman whose best known name is “Tonino”. For the past 20 years, Tonino, wearing shorts and slippers, has been leisurely in charge of this scenic miniature monarchy. The old man said with fun: “I am probably the most ordinary king in the world.”

Because there are no airports, railways, highways, bustling commercial districts, banks, hotels, or even a hotel on this island, the only place to live is a white sand shovel that can be measured by footsteps. Here, the king opened a restaurant.

Building your own island nation may sound like a daydream of being trapped in a lonely island of the Mediterranean, but the story of the Kingdom of Tavolara did indeed begin in 1807. Tonino’s great-grandfather, Giuseppe Bertolioni, is a Genoan immigrant. He was tall and handsome when he was young. Because he abducted a pair of young and beautiful sisters in the town, he was in urgent need of a safe place. To escape the sanctions against bigamy.

Later, Giuseppe and his two sweethearts found a paradise island that was almost isolated from the town. There is a rare wild goat, which is undoubtedly the best food. As a result, the three people lived a wonderful life of fishing and sheep on the island, all self-sufficient and romantic. Since then, Giuseppe has become the first inhabitant on this uninhabited island and claimed to be the king on the island.

Interestingly, because the wild goats often eat seaweed and moss, their teeth are dyed golden yellow. Later, the news about the “golden-plated tooth goat” finally reached the ears of Sardinian ruler Carlo Alberto. In 1836, he brought people to Tavolara to hunt such goats. At that time, Giuseppe’s son Paul was the guide for the hunt.

When I landed, the man introduced himself and said, “I am Carlo Alberto, the king of Sardinia.” Perhaps the ignorant is fearless. The 24-year-old Paul said humorously: “I am Paul, the king of Tavolara. ”

Carlo Alberto killed some goats and was very happy after the three-day banquet at the Paul family. Before taking the boat, he said: “Paul, you are really the king of Tavolara!” It was not a joke, but Carlo Alberto later confirmed this distant island, which was never officially attributed to the Kingdom of Sardinia. He even sent Paul a royal scroll of the Savoy dynasty to prove Paul’s monarchy. .

Paul immediately created the Bertolioni coat of arms and painted it on the wall of his home. He also painted a royal family tree and built a cemetery for himself and his descendants on the island. When he passed away, Paul insisted on putting a crown on top of his tombstone – something he had never worn before he was alive.

Later in the years, news about the island nation spread out of the Mediterranean, and the small Tavolara even formed many political alliances. Giuseppe Garibaldi was one of the fathers of Italy and soon became a trusted advisor to the Paul family; at the time the king of Sardinia, Vittorio Emanuel II, travelled long distances in 1903. A peace treaty was signed with 33 residents of the postal-sized island nation.

In the process of collecting photos of world leaders, Queen Victoria commissioned a British naval vessel to dock on the island so that officials could take pictures of the “royal family” of Tavolara. For many years, this photo has been exhibited at Buckingham Palace, titled “The World’s Smallest Kingdom.” Now, a huge copy of this photo is hanging in Tonino’s restaurant, whose restaurant is properly named the king of Tavolara and decorated with the crown of Paul I.

In 1962, the completion of a NATO military base ended the independence of the kingdom. At the same time, NATO also made a quarter of the island a restricted area where these few residents could not set foot. However, like the small country of San Marino, Tavolara has never officially belonged to modern Italy, which makes Tonino the fifth king of this kingdom that is no longer recognized by the world.

In peacetime, His Majesty is not a squid, he is taking care of his own garden, or patrolling more than 100 sensitive goats on the island of Tavolara and several endangered eagle owls that live on the island’s 565-meter-high limestone summit. For the past 40 years, Tonino has been personally accompanying tourists to visit the family’s palace on the island – from the beginning to a rowing boat, now a 25-minute cruise from St. Paul’s Wharf. “My family may have a glorious past,” Tonino said softly. “But we also work hard and live simple, just like everyone else.”

In fact, the governance kingdom is more like a family business. The king and his nephew Nikolay are responsible for driving the summer cruise; the prince and the quasi-king, Giuseppe and Lloret Dana run the seaside restaurant. Giuseppe’s nephew Antonio, who gets up early every morning, goes out to sea to supply most of the clams, lobsters and fish needed for the afternoon and evening kitchens.

As the city of Tavola is like a peach blossom, many travelers and photographers come here every year, including the British BBC and the National Geographic reporter. Thanks to the rise of the island tourism boom, the Kingdom’s gross domestic product has been strong recently.

Ironically, Tavolara is now a jewel in the Italian National Marine Nature Reserve, one of the regions with the highest biomass in the Mediterranean! Therefore, the island soon became one of the best dive sites in Italy. Many tourists came here to play with sea turtles, sperm whales and scorpion sharks, and then they will surface to the open-air restaurant.

Although Tonino likes to greet the guests at the pier, his most enjoyable time is before a large number of sunbathers and diving fans come to the kingdom. Shortly after dawn, he liked to walk through several sunset-colored houses on the island of Tavolara, along the dusty trail to the royal cemetery. Since the death of Paul I in 1886, this land has accepted every member of the royal family, the most recent one being the wife of Tonino, the wife of Tonino who died a few years ago.

Like most of his former members of the Betorioni family, and the prince who will succeed in the future, Tonino is technically an Italian citizen. “For me, being able to live here is already a privilege.” The old king often looked at the sunset, his eyes crossed the pier and watched his emerald kingdom. For Tony, who had a very comfortable life, There are no crowns, they are kings!